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New Report Presents Agency Priorities for Mapping South Florida’s Coral Reef Ecosystems

Published on: 11/09/2022

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) utilizes benthic mapping data on coral reef ecosystems to support a diversity of science-based management decisions. To efficiently allocate limited mapping resources, CRCP identified the need for current priority locations based on emerging management requirements in coral reef areas up to 40 meters deep along the south Florida coast, from Martin County to the Dry Tortugas. To meet this need, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) developed a systematic, quantitative approach and online application to gather mapping priorities from researchers and coral reef managers. Participants placed virtual coins into a grid overlaid on the project area to express the location of their mapping priorities. A total of 18 participants from 13 participant groups entered their mapping priorities into the online tool. Participants identified several high priority areas based on the ranking and total number of coins: 1) Port of Fort Lauderdale, 2) deep reef edge from northern Miami to Key Largo and the Port of Miami, 3) Hawk Channel area including two Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs, Looe Key and Newfound Harbor), 4) Dry Tortugas National Park, and 5) the Mission: Iconic Reefs. These high priority areas highlight some of the best opportunities for collaboration, with the potential to meet a variety of coral management goals. The report, “Agency Priorities for Mapping South Florida’s Coral Reefs”, highlights the methods and results from this mapping prioritization effort.


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